Abby Rapoport thinks political reporters are inventing a GOP establishment-Tea Party divide after Texas’s Tuesday primaries, in which Senator John Cornyn and other establishment figures fought off challenges from the right:
Texas is complicated because there’s no binary opposition between “establishment” candidates and those affiliated with the Tea Party. Should we define “establishment” as Speaker of the House Joe Straus, who has himself a relatively moderate record but has presided over one of the state’s most conservative legislatures? Outside Tea Party groups have tried to topple Straus, yet he also commands support from Tea Party-backed state representatives. Or is the “establishment” closer to Governor Rick Perry, the state’s longest-serving governor, who gave one of the first major speeches at a Tea Party rally in 2009? Or is it David Dewhurst, who hung tight to Perry’s message, passed extreme measures, but then watched his political dreams crumble as Cruz rose to power by accusing Dewhurst of being a moderate?
Benen agrees that the primaries are a contest between the far right and the farther right:
If the top-line takeaway is that the GOP Establishment won and the Tea Party faltered, some might get the impression that more moderate conservatives prevailed over voices of extremism. That impression would be mistaken. Federal lawmakers like Cornyn and [Rep. Pete] Sessions became some of the most conservative members of Congress in recent years as Republican politics in Texas became more radicalized.
Cillizza points out that the Tea Party didn’t much care for Cornyn’s challenger:
Yes, [Steve] Stockman ran as the conservative alternative to Cornyn who he attacked as part of the problem due, at least in part, to the fact that the incumbent is the second ranking Republican in the Senate. And, yes, some of Stockman’s views on the problems with the Republican party in Washington align with the tea party. But, the idea that Stockman was a tea party darling is simply not true. In fact, it’s hard to find a single major tea party group that endorsed Stockman’s campaign. Several leaders of the tea party even denounced it.
George P. Bush easily won the GOP primary for land commissioner, a powerful post in Texas. He has the inside track in the November general election given the state’s conservative tilt. Bush is the nephew of former president George W. Bush and the son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush. While the former president has largely avoided the spotlight since leaving office, the Bush name is bound to get more attention in the coming months with George P. Bush’s campaign and speculation over whether Jeb Bush will run for president ramps up as 2016 draws near.